Saturday, April 21, 2012

(from) a song of mercies - david brendan hopes

Mercy on me Spirit,
   for my excessiveness in all things,
   unrepentant, sorrowing that there
   was not always substance nor occasion for more.
   What I have touched I have worn out.
   Where I have gone has wished to
   see the back of me.
   What I have sought has been run to ground
   or soared off honking
   where none could find it anymore.
   Whom I have loved has turned from me
   finally in exhaustion -
   and I know that saying it this way
   makes it sound, almost, a virtue,
   a fire, consuming or refining, in either case white hot -
   but you decide, and permit the proper mercy to descend.

Mercy on me Spirit,
   for the fierce lucidity,
   the stuff of poetry, but the man-destroyer,
   the fender-off of hearts;
   for the charity almost never withheld
   but sometimes crammed down the wrong throat,
   a feast for the merely peckish,
   the starving left with a high smile and a poem
   prostrate in the road;
   for the ingratitude that takes Arcturus and the Pleiades
   and Bach, El Greco and the red tailed hawk as merely due;
   for the pride that would unmake the world
   to make You answer me, to
   make You yield me what is mine,
   to make You love me as you must have promised
   in that swaddling hour only I remember.

Mercy on me Spirit,
   lame with anger, song by anger struck out of my mouth,
   dancer of the Kali-dance: revenge, revenge;
   by anger's red moon put to sleep,
   by anger's red sun wakened,
   poems wrenched into timepieces of retribution,
   nights into counting houses of Your slights and wrongs,
   reveries and friendships shattered;
   having built a house of anger to dwell within;
   having been a river of anger plowing underground;
   having been a wind of anger blackening the petals,
   freezing the boats of me in harbor;
   cruel, cunning, haywire, weeping, full astray
   in the Gehenna of anger, O in mercy, take it away,
   having filled my mouth with dust, the Serpent
   lashing its tail in the desert of its victories....

Hopes, David Brendan "A Song of Mercies" Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. 304-306.